05 January 2010


The folks at Apple must be getting tired of having their logo exploited for embarrassing purposes like this:

An outfit called OmniPeace has developed an "iVideo" to call attention to the systematic use violence that various factions and parties are perpetrating against women and girls caught in the war zone known as the Congo. You can find it here.

Two things seem positive here. The first is that the OmniPeace folks have identified the source of the problem - the conflict in the Congo is a resource war driven by demand from the developed world. Second, the actions that they recommend are not simply consumerist; they recommend contacting political leaders as well as corporate execs. On the other hand, the OmniPeace web site is dripping with (photogenic) celebrities and there is a remarkable disconnect between a focus on a political-economic problem and the notion that there is an 'ethical' solution to it.

Where is the learning? Can't anyone draw the lessons from past campaigns like this? They are that ethical solutions - like 'sourcing' the raw materials that go into our gadgets - don't work well because the companies onto which groups like OmniPeace hope to bring pressure simply design 'standards' and monitoring regimes that rationalize and mask their policies. In Harpers this month Ken Silverstein documents this in the case of 'anti-sweatshop' measures (here - behind sub wall). Lots of guilt assuaged. Not much actual progress in terms of ending political-economic exploitation.

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